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Doc Martin- House Music's Greatest Survivor

Author: Jonty Skrufff
Saturday, June 28, 2003
As well as maintaining a hugely successful DJ career since he started DJing 17 years ago, San Francisco house champion Doc Martin is one of life's true survivors, fighting the often fatal and always horrifically painful disease pancreatitis after collapsing unexpectedly three years ago.

"I went into hospital with what I thought was food poisoning and woke up six weeks later in a bed," he told Jonty Skrufff this week.

"They put me on morphine for that whole time and I had the craziest trips such as coming round once and feeling like I was in a Star Wars movie," he recalls. "Because I was tripping, there were flashing lights all around me and I kept hearing drum & bass basslines in my sleep; it was really mental."

As well as recalling the happier aspects of his disease, he's equally in touch with the darker aspects of his illness.

"The pain felt like having two circular saws on each side, being stuck into you and turned. I passed out coming into the ward and literally came to six weeks later. Everything shut down except my heart; my lungs shrunk down to the size of a plum."

Happily now better, the DJ was in London for his regular residency at Fabric and also to promote his latest album for the same club, a mix CD out now on Fabric's label.

Skrufff: You've recently done a new mix album for Fabric, your 7th compilation so far, how did the fact it was for Fabric affect you're approach-

Doc Martin: "I wanted to do a CD that represented the kind of sets I do there though it's hard in an hour to represent the spectrum of music I play because when I play there I cover so many different vibes, to keep the crowd on their toes. I tend to put a lot of work in my sets there, to try and challenge the crowd, for example, by playing slower sometimes, in the main room there. All the best clubs have a ying and yang thing going on, some DJs offer people exactly what they want then others put more art into it, which I think the regulars appreciate.

I started by trying to pick tracks that don't expire within two months; they don't need to be white labels. The CD was also done on three decks covering various different vibes. I did it one take with no additional overdubs- I effectively do my overdubs live. I did a mix CD on computer once and didn't like it, it didn't feel organic enough for me. There's nothing worse than going out to hear people play and discovering they don't play as well as their CDs; well, that happens because they did it all on computer."

Skrufff: How are you prioritising between London, LA and the rest of the world-

Doc Martin: "I'm spending a lot of time in Los Angeles right now, I've always thought it's important to be seen as 'big' or at least established in your own town. How can you go around the world and not have a following where you live- LA's a testing crowd for all kinds of music, we get such a mixed open crowd at our Sublevel parties, everybody from drag queens to dancers to kids off the street and dressed up people; it's a very mixed crowd but they all come for the music. I'm very excited about mixing the straight and gay scenes again because there was a big segregation for a while, at least in LA. I see it here in England too. We completely hand pick our crowd though not based on how someone's dressed but more by a person's vibe. There are some really well dressed people I won't give flyers to because I feel they'll bring bad attitude."

Skrufff: You're a private party organiser yourself, how is the RAVE act affecting you-

Doc Martin: "We were worried at first, I even DJed at the rallies protesting about it, which was really a sad experience for me. Because there wasn't enough support. In (Washington) DC, for example, they recently closed down two great clubs that had been operating for years and at the rally there were only about 40 people there. In LA, there were about four or five hundred which was also disappointing.The way they presented the law was tha